GMC Round 1 Postmortem

In this postmortem, I’d like to reflect on the first 3 months of the GMC’s existence and our first round of grants. I’ll touch on what went well, what could be improved, and how we (the committee and also the community) might change things in the future to make it work better.

First Round Scoring/Awarding

There were some initial hurdles in trying to find ways of doing internal communication that worked for people in different time zones and with different work hours. Mentor tried his best to get us to use some asynchronous tools (sorry, Mentor) but we mostly fell back on shared Google docs/sheets and the one Discord thread. The latter quickly proved unworkable, as there were just too many bits of conversation going on in one thread. Thankfully someone (and I want to say it was Mentor again but am not 100% sure) pointed out that Discord has a forum feature. It took a bit of time to get that set up with the Team, but once we did, it helped immeasurably. I can imagine that in future rounds there might be a forum thread for each application which will make asynchronous communication much easier.

The other thing that worked really well was the Zoom call we ended up doing. We couldn’t find a time that worked for all 7 of us, but we did find exactly one time that worked for 6 of the 7. Huge shout out to the Europeans on the committee who did the call at a really late hour for them. It was the most efficient 2 hours I’ve had in a meeting in a long time, and it allowed us to square away a lot of things that were still outstanding. It’s possible that with the forum feature in place from the beginning, the Zoom call will no longer be necessary, but I’d encourage the committee to try and keep it as a fallback option.

There were a few folks who I personally would like to have seen more engaged in the scoring and award discussions process, but in the big picture I actually think there’s been a really good balance between people who were very active in the first month on setting up the rubric/our communications and workflow tools, people who were active in the second month on scoring and awarding things, and people who were active in the third month of setting up and disbursing awards. Across all three months I think the other members of the committee all did relatively similar amounts of work, and I guess I’d just encourage people to continue to be as active as they were during their peak part of the last cycle. Having three additional members will also help with this.

Public vs. Private Discussion

This came up in several different places (including on Discord and here on the forum). Most of our conversations took place privately. I believe that’s necessary for people to speak honestly about the awards and for the efficiency needed to get things done in time. Our one attempt at having a channel where the committee could speak with each other publicly but with the community watching, rapidly devolved into the people not on the committee regularly entering the conversation. That is basically unworkable at scale and I quickly gave up on trying to remind people that it was supposed to be a publicly-viewable place for the committee to talk but not to interact with the community (as such spaces existed elsewhere and were sadly underutilized).

I am sympathetic to the criticism that, especially if the committee continues to come to consensus on votes (which is often a good thing), the community has no data on which to base future votes for re-election. One suggestion I’d have is that next time the committee publishes non-anonymous feedback. That would allow members of the community to see exactly what each member of the committee has to say about each application. It would also have the happy side effect of getting more members of the committee to fill out the *$&#ing Google Form with feedback. I was a bit sad that we only ended up with 4 of 7.

Community input

A big thanks to the folks who participated in the Community forum post during the application/scoring period. I found it very helpful to see what people not on the committee thought of things. I’d encourage more people to participate in that next time.

Official challenges

Personally, I was really happy that there were no official RPIP challenges to the first round. I was ready to come out proverbially swinging, but it was nice to not have to do so. The more challenges that come up and are successful, the less we incentivize volunteer committee members to spend real amounts of time on committee work. I can’t speak for others, but if I was still on the committee and a bunch of our things were routinely getting successfully challenged, my inclination would be to say the heck with it and just fund everything at the asked amounts and leave it to the community to challenge things. Fortunately, the others on the committee are better people than I, but I do think that’s still a risk. My personal thinking on the challenges is that they make sense in the context of disagreeing with the decision to fund or not fund something (or I suppose fund something at such a low level that it might as well have been not funded), but disagreements over specific funding levels feels like micromanagement and gets us into the incentive question above.

The retrospective award cap

This is dumb and it should be eliminated. I think I’m done prevaricating in my language. We’ve already committed to making the awards. All the cap does is force people in the community who have made valuable contributions to wait for their funds and make the accounting harder for the GMC Treasurer. If we were interpreting the cap to mean “the committee literally cannot even announce awards for RAs that are more than 50% of the total announced awards” I would think that was a dumb policy but at least it would be doing something. As it stands the cap just puts an artificial limit on the pace of payouts but the committee is still going to function moving forward like those funds are already being used. See below for other possible future RPIP-15/18 changes, but when we do another round in a few months, I’d strongly push to eliminate the cap. If a community member really thought the committee was using too much funds for RAs, that would be a legitimate reason for a challenge.

Schedule moving forward

One thing we talked about as a committee during the challenge period was the possibility of switching to an open-ended application cycle. I think it would be wise to run at least the next couple of grant rounds in April and June to see how many applications come in and how many good ones are having to wait between periods, but most people on the committee seemed to agree that just having open forum threads for grants/applications/RAs might work now that we’ve established some general baseline for comparative funding. It was really important to have them all come in at once to begin with (and I think will still be useful for the next couple of rounds) to give the committee a large number of applications to compare for adjusting award amounts and getting a sense of how much demand is out there for the GMC’s treasury, but perhaps come the summer we can move to a cycle that looks more like “Submit your application in this thread at any time, community has one week to make any comments, GMC will respond within two weeks (inclusive of the community’s one week for comment), community has two weeks to challenge. Any successful application is therefore receiving funding within a month of being submitted”. The main fear for not doing this initially was workload/burnout concerns for the GMC but with the Discord forum feature and with the committee building up a portfolio of previous decisions to use as guidance, it should probably be manageable, although I also suspect that shifting to this model will induce more grant/bounty/RA applications.

Community expectations of the committee/GMC Manager

This is kind of a big one for me but I’ve been lazier than I should have been in gathering evidence so I’ve been a bit loath to write it up. As someone who is/was on the GMC, and particularly as someone who felt very committed to seeing it succeed, I couldn’t help but notice every time someone in #trading or governance or on the forum mentioned that the GMC should do X, Y, or Z. I really wish I’d kept a list because I suspect it would be a really, really long list. To be fair, a lot of these are the kinds of random ideas that get thrown out once in #trading and then never surface again - although there’s also currently a pretty long list of potential bounty ideas in a forum thread, each of which requires at least one person on the committee to take ownership of managing if it’s funded.

To some extent, I think the default of “the GMC should do X” happens because right now the formal structures of our pDAO are (a) an IMC with a very specific remit and (b) the GMC, who are also the people with all the money that is supposed to be spent on everything from marketing to coding to research to support to bizdev to partnerships, etc. And that’s it. It is therefore natural that whenever someone has an idea for something, especially something that someone has to pay for, they would default to suggesting the only existing pDAO group that has money and a pretty vague remit would be the people to do it.

The flip side of that is that I don’t really think most of the people on the GMC had that in mind when they decided to run for it and, even if they did, are likely too busy with life (including other RP stuff) to become the catch-all executive branch and also sort-of legislative branch of the pDAO. There are probably a variety of solutions to this, but the one that, at least right now, I’d most favor is the hiring of a part-time GMC Administrator. Their main job would be more on the “grants/bounty administration” and less on the “grants awarding” side, although I suppose they could also be the one tasked with setting up the forum threads and interfacing with applicants. Their main tasks would be to be the contact person with any grantees, including doing verification checks of completion of work, serving as a liaison between the grantee and the committee when there was a technical question beyond their expertise, organizing and publicizing any bounties as well as doing a first pass of checking on successful bounty claims. If that was deemed insufficient work for a part-time position, I imagine we could expand it to include things like organizing the scoring sheets, publishing award results, collecting community input on grant/bounty/RA applications, etc. I don’t know how much we’d have to pay to get a strong candidate who would be trusted by the community and the committee, but with an existing GMC treasury nearing a couple million dollars in value, it seems like the position should be fundable.


Thank you for putting this together, Cal.

Truly, the GMC’s first round would not have been as successful as it was without your phenomenal input.

I want to speak in defense of the RA cap (which I may have been involved in ideating or not, it’s been a minute).

After this round ended, I was sorely disappointed in how few forward-looking items there were (especially bounty) (yes, I mean bounty not bounties). I was disappointed in the community, and I was disappointed in myself. I will do better (and there is already a live thread for keeping track of ideas for next round).

The point of the RA limit isn’t to damage the RA recipients (though I’ll grant that is a side effect). It’s to light a fire under people to figure out forward looking items.


You and I may just have to agree to disagree on the value of the RA cap. It made sense to me initially as a way of making sure the GMC didn’t just spend all its money on rewarding community members rather than funding future-looking endeavors. The first round demonstrated that the committee is not going to do that and I don’t even know that there are enough potential pre-2023 RAs left out there to be applied for me to be concerned about it any longer. But that cap will apply to people who do stuff for RP moving forward but who don’t think to apply for a grant for it first, or for whom the grant timeline doesn’t work. They still fall under the RA cap so we are in essence punishing them for doing stuff first without applying for a grant, which would result in immediate payment.

It’s also just an accounting fiction now. Yes technically the GMC can revoke any future RA payments that have been promised but not made. That’s the only way I think it can work with the letter of the RPIP-15 law on the cap. But that seems really unlikely.

And I think we really are just going to have to disagree that there are going to be more than two or three folks who are specifically incentivized to propose future bounties/grants in order to help clear the RA queue. (I’m also not really sure how to mentally reconcile the possibility that we clear that queue because of a bunch of proposed bounties - which may never actually be done or claimed - are approved).

It just seems like we’ve awarded this money to people that we all agree did wonderful things for RP. We all believe we will eventually pay them all of that awarded money because they did wonderful things for RP. But they have to wait, possibly for quite a few months or years, because people haven’t proposed more wonderful things that could be done for RP in the future.

Edit: although I guess it is incentivizing me to propose my “Trillion Dollar Coin” RP Grant idea, where the GMC pays itself 20,000 RPL as a grant in order to clear the RA queue. And no, I would never actually do this and I would hope the GMC wouldn’t approve it if I did, but why should the US Department of Treasury get to have all the fun?

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Thank you Caluduran for your work on making this better even as you move on, and to all the other committee members too. This is an excellent breakdown.

Just wanted to chime in my thoughts that a rolling application/decision cycle would have a lot of pitfalls.
  1. Unclear benefit to the protocol: I know 3 months in crypto is a long time, but I don’t think there is a great reason that an idea conceived today needs to be approved for funding within 2 weeks. If it’s that critical and able to be rolled out so quickly, just do it and crowdfund/ask for retroactive funding afterwards.

  2. First mover advantage: two people have a similar and good idea. Unless they apply within two weeks of each other, it is impossible to even discuss who will get a better result; the first applicant will always receive the grant. A likely scenario is an idea gets publicly discussed in #trading, one applicant spends a month fine tuning it but has already been scooped by a more barebones grant.

  3. Escalation/de-escalation of acceptances: rather than comparing to a discreet cohort, projects will be compared to the recent past. If a “bad” project gets approved, essentially all moderately to minimally bad projects should be approved for a while (to preserve the ideal that the committee has any objective basis for their decisions). Similarly, if a “good” project is rejected, all moderately to minimally good projects should be rejected for a while. Same goes for amount of award.

  4. ‘spamming’ the channel: rejected grants can apply again with revisions (we want this)- just have to figure out how to make this non-obtrusive for the committee.

  5. Difficulty with budgeting: Because decisions won’t happen in discreet chunks, the amount awarded will be hard to balance with the existing treasury. Overall, I worry that this will mean it is more likely that we drain the treasury with less superior submissions.

To me, the sweet spot is to accept rolling applications with a quarterly final award decision so that 1) committee members can split up their time better reviewing applications (knowing some small tweaks may happen) and 2) community members can comment and help craft proposals BEFORE the ossified submission (which will ensure higher quality submissions) and 3) proposals can still ultimately be compared against each other given the zero sum nature of funding.